Believe it or not, cosmetic surgery for earlobes; that’s right, earlobe procedures, are always among the most commonly performed plastic surgery procedures in the United States! Surprised?
Earlobes are sensual and sexy and a part of the overall look of the face. When adorned with jewelry, the variety of messages we can send – casual, formal, mysterious, artsy, flirty – are limited only by the imagination. After all, earlobes are the #1 most popular body piercing in the world.
But a common problem is the overstretched piercing hole in the earlobe. Perhaps it’s simply that the hole was originally pierced too large, or that it somehow healed that way, or it was pierced too low and close to the lower edge. Some pierce sites seem to stretch and slowly enlarge as the years go by. Is it the aging process or was the repeated use of large, heavy, dangling earrings also to blame? When the hole is too big, a small post-style earring, let’s say one with a one carat diamond stud, slips out, unnoticed, right through the hole, and it’s gone. How many expensive earrings do you have to lose before you get that earlobe fixed?
Very often, the ever-enlarging earlobe pierce hole reveals itself one day to actually have become a full “split”, the so-called “torn earlobe”. It is now impossible to wear a post – there’s no hole anymore, just a split. You could wear a clip-on. But without anything on the lobe, it looks pretty bad. Sometimes that last little bit of skin still holding the earlobe together below the enlarging hole gets a little help to finish off the tear needed to make a split – a wandering baby’s hands (fascinated by the sparkling ear jewelry), a wayward old-fashioned telephone cord, a sweater, sweatshirt, t-shirt or towel that caught it just the right way, hair brushing “trauma” or those big, heavy earrings again?
Whether an enlarged hole or a split, the reconstructive repair is actually a very easy deal. With a little local anesthetic and dissolvable stitches, 15 minutes later you’re done and soon the earlobe will look like it did originally, like the split or the cosmetic procedure to fix it never happened. A new, fresh, tight pierce hole can be placed at the same time as the repair, and you can wear your earrings right out of the office! Total cost? Typically $300 – $400 per ear.
Then there are the hanging, loose and overall enlarged earlobes themselves. Yes, unfortunately our earlobes do “age” as they stretch out and droop, getting folds and lines and a redundant, looseness of skin. As we get older, the earlobes appear to be more floppy, larger, longer and wrinkly. But an earlobe reduction is an easy fix, often incorporated as a part of a facelift or similar type of cosmetic facial rejuvenation procedure. A lobe reduction can also be performed in the office, with local anesthetic and absorbable stitches as well. Earrings look better in a smaller, younger, less droopy earlobe, too.
Did you know that ear piercings are also a common procedure at the plastic surgeon’s office? Why?
The exact spot on each earlobe can be selected for the best position for symmetry of earring placement. Most people have slight differences in their earlobe shape and size as well as differences in ear position and size that are simply not taken into account at the “piercing pit stop” in the mall. Your plastic surgeon uses local anesthetic so that whether young or old, that last second wincy-jerk reflex won’t throw the hole placement off-center!
Keloids can develop in the earlobes after any kind of trauma, including ear piercing. Keloids are extra-thick, bulky scar tissue that can develop weeks, months and (rarely) even years later! Keloids can be so large and bumpy that earrings can no longer be worn, not even clip-ons. They are embarrassing, very unsightly and are often also itchy and uncomfortable. These can be very challenging to treat as recurrence is a known risk with every treatment method available today. But office surgical reconstruction is fairly simple. Once the scar tissue is removed using local anesthetic and a special steroid medication is injected into the earlobe, some very satisfying results can be achieved. Don’t worry – the steroid injection won’t have you posing anytime soon for “Pumping Iron” magazine! This steroid stays in the earlobe only and works to limit scar growth, nothing more.
Dr. Lyle Back is originally from New York City, receiving his medical and surgical training at Rutgers Medical School, Cooper Hospital – University Medical Center, and Ohio State. He is Board Certified in General Surgery (ABS) and Plastic Surgery (ABPS). He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (ACS), the American Academy of Cosmetic Surgery (AACS), and a longstanding member of the premier American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). He specializes in the full range of the most modern and state of the art facial cosmetic surgery procedures and non-surgical cosmetic enhancement techniques available today.